Are you making these common mistakes in your training?
Most triathletes take their training seriously. They are highly motivated, disciplined, and willing to work hard to improve. However, I also see most triathletes making the same training mistakes over and over again. I’m not talking about small mistakes in the details of training, but fundamental ones that impede progress in a major way. I’d like to talk about five such mistakes and show you how to avoid each of them.
Mistake #1: Not training progressively
A lot of triathletes practice what I sometimes call “lifestyle training,” by which I mean that they do more or less the same training every week. The only real planning they do is to sign up for races. The only real progression in their training is a general trend toward increasing volume. Their swim training either completely conforms to a masters group, or else they swim alone and just do laps. Their bike and run training consists almost entirely in logging miles. Many triathletes do hit the track once a week for a few weeks as races draw near, but without much thinking behind the specific types of workouts they do there.
This approach is fine if you enjoy it and don’t care too much about consistent, long-term improvement. But if you do want consistent, long-term improvement, your training should evolve from week to week throughout the training cycle. In order to continually build fitness, you need to challenge your body in slightly different ways all the time, so that the only thing your body gets used to is the need to constantly adapt.
Now, you can’t just vary your training haphazardly. You need to sequence the various types of training in such a way that your fitness moves step by step from its present state to the race-ready peak state you want to achieve by the end of the training cycle. Break the training into three phases: a base phase, a build phase, and a peak phase.
In the base phase, focus on building general endurance and improving technique and economy with technique drills and very short, very fast intervals. In the intensity phase, your key workouts should be short 60-90 seconds) to middle-duration (3-5 minutes) intervals of high intensity that enhance your body’s ability to buffer and clear away lactic acid and your mind’s ability to handle suffering. In the race phase, focus on race-specific efforts such as long intervals (12-24 minutes) and challenging long workouts (including bike-run workouts).